HIBERNIAN defender Ryan Porteous admits he has been left gutted after the coronavirus crisis robbed him of a top-team comeback.
Porteous, 21, required surgery after sustaining a serious knee injury during the capital club’s 2-2 draw with Dundee United in January.
However, he was due to resume light training just mere days after the Covid-19 outbreak forced Scottish football to announce an indefinite hiatus.
Porteous acknowledges the thought of facing city rivals Hearts in the Scottish Cup semi-final and featuring in the post-split fixtures fuelled his gruelling rehabilitation programme.
And, while he accepts football is a secondary concern at the moment, his frustration is acute and understandable.
Seeking any silver lining from a grim situation, he does expect to be fully fit when competitive football resumes – whenever that may be.
Porteous, who penned a new contract until 2023 at the start of the year, said: “I had that target of knowing I could be back before the end of the season. It was dangling a carrot for me.
“For that to have been taken away, with everything that’s happening, is hard to take.
“I should have been back on the grass training on the day after we were told not to go back into the training centre, so you can say it’s bad timing from that point of view.
“I think Hibs were in the process of organising a few development squad games for during the international break so that I could get some game-time and then, hopefully, from the start of April I’d have been in contention to make the squad and possibly play.
“But I’m trying to look at the positives. It could be a blessing in disguise that I’ll come back when everyone else is ready and I should be fully fit.”
Porteous found the road to recovery somewhat easier to navigate, having endured devastating cruciate knee ligament damage last season.
That condemned him to seven months on the sidelines and, notwithstanding the absence of Martin Boyle, who was injured alongside him for much of that period, he has coped better this time.
He continued: “When I picked up my injury last year that was a new experience for me. So, this time I was at least used to having to do the same thing every day, so it wasn’t too bad.
“This time around it’s a shorter rehab, but you’re still doing the same things. It gets really repetitive and boring – especially when you don’t have Martin Boyle by your side to go through it with you!
“It’s tough but it’s part and parcel of football.”
As one of the most promising young centre-halves in the SPFL, Porteous was a regular with Scotland’s under-21 side and even landed a call-up to Steve Clarke’s senior squad for the November games against Cyprus and Kazakhstan, albeit without featuring.
Those international aspirations will be just as strong when he does return to action.
He told Hibs’ official website: “There have been a few injuries within the senior team so if I’d been back playing you never know, I might have been in contention.
“But it’s something I can work towards now and strive to get to.”